OPERATION WEST END
Convicted of corruption, Laxman quits BJP
After being awarded a prison term and a fine, the former BJP president has resigned from the party’s national executive as well
Disgraced former BJP President Bangaru Laxman has quit the party. Earlier in the day he resigned from the BJP national executive. After conviction of Laxman by a Delhi court on corruption charges in Tehelka’s sting operation, there has been growing demand from within his party for his removal.
Senior party leader and BJP national vice president Shanta Kumar revealed that he had demanded Bangaru Laxman’s expulsion from the party 11 years ago but was snubbed by his party men then for raising the issue. He even claimed that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has agreed to his suggestion.
It is not just within BJP, its ally and partner in Bihar government – Janata Dal (United) has also criticised the party of double standards on corruption. “Look, the BJP dropped Bangaru Laxman like a hot potato. It's almost as if he were a Dalit, and they would lose their caste if they stood next to a Dalit. But what's happening in the case of Yeddyurappa?” senior leader of JD (U), Shivanand Tiwari told reporters in Patna.
Laxman is currently lodged in Tihar Jail. He has been awarded four years of rigorous imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Bangaru Laxman gets 4 years in prison and Rs 1 lakh fine
Delhi court comes down heavily on the “sab chalta hai attitude” while sentencing the former BJP president in the bribe case
Former BJP president Bangaru Laxman has been sentenced to four years of rigorous imprisonment. Coming down heavily on the “sab chalta hai” attitude of the political class, the court imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Laxman — the exact amount he was accused of taking as bribe in the Operation West End sting operation. This is also the first time in Indian history that a senior politician has been convicted for corruption based on evidence gathered in a sting operation conducted by a media organisation. Because of the four year sentence, Laxman will not get bail and has to approach a higher court for relief.
Convicted under section 9 of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, the Delhi court judge held that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has established beyond reasonable doubt that Laxman had taken bribe to influence public officials with ministry of defence to show favour for the fictitious firm Tehelka journalists represented.
“The accused Bangaru Laxman on January 5, 2001 had accepted illegal gratification of Rs 1 lakh from M/S Westend International and has further agreed to accept the balance amount of illegal gratification in dollars, as a motive or reward for exercise of personal influence on the public servants working with ministry of defence, to show favour for award of a supply order in favour of the above mentioned company of HHTIs (hand-held thermal imagers) to Indian Army,” he said. The judge also mentioned that while the method adopted by Tehelka investigative journalists may be objectionable, but their purpose was not. “The material collected on record does not suggest any shortfall in the investigation,” he added.
The political slugfest on the issue has already begun between the Congress and the BJP. While the BJP has distanced itself from its former president and called this as Laxman's private matter, Congress says this will send a powerful signal that nobody is above the law.
Laxman’s lawyers have announced that he will appeal against the judgment in higher courts.
Kunal Majumder is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.